In the wake of a shooting death of a man who was homeless in Los Angeles, the California State Senate is discussing a Right To Rest bill, which would allow people who are homeless a little dignity while that state pushes to end homelessness.
When a person is arrested for loitering or some other such discretionary crime, that creates a criminal record, which can make employment difficult, which in turn makes leaving homelessness more difficult. From the Homeless Persons Legal Assistance Project:
Ending homelessness in the most prosperous states in the nation should be a top priority of policy makers and, until this is achieved, the criminalization of people simply because they have no home must be immediately halted. The Right to Rest Act of 2015 will protect people who are homeless from citations and imprisonment resulting from resting, sharing food or practicing religion in public. Citations and jail time only worsen the condition of people without homes and their opportunities to escape homelessness. By acknowledging the failure of municipal laws to criminalize poverty and homelessness, we hope that passage of this legislation will improve the focus on more humane and effective responses to homelessness.
Connecticut has had a somewhat similar law — the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights — on the books since 2013.
The California bill is a result of research from Western Regional Advocacy Project of over 1388 homeless people in 13 communities in California. In that study:
- 81% percent said they were harassed, cited or arrested for sleeping
- 68% percent for loitering
In a Los Angeles survey:
- 31 percent of homeless people surveyed lost social services
- 26.8 percent lost housing
- 6.9 percent lost employment as a result of a “public space” citation
Meanwhile, while police make more of these kinds of arrests, the lack of affordable housing continues to plague California, as it does Connecticut.
Posted in Homelessness
Tagged Arrest, California, Connecticut, Employment, Homeless, Homeless Persons Bill of Rights, Law, Loitering, Right to Rest, Sleeping, Western Regional Advocacy Project
Lucy Lawless has pleaded guilty to a trespassing charge after she and other Greenpeace activists protested aboard an oil-drilling ship docked in New Zealand.
Lawless will be charged in September; she faces three years in jail.
Eleven of the 12 protesters who were arrested at Hartford’s action that blocked the Broad St. I-84 on-ramp on Thursday went to Hartford Community Court this morning.
The protesters (the 12th could not be in court today and will appear later) were charged with disorderly conduct in violation of Section 53a-182 of Connecticut law. Before they could agree to be arrested, the dozen went through training to know what to expect, said Tom Swan, who was among those arrested. He said 40 more people were anxious to volunteer to be arrested, but they hadn’t been trained, and it was important this go smoothly.
This morning, the protesters were given one day of community service apiece. They will return to court on Dec. 9 to find out what that service might entail.
Community court was started in 1998 in no small part because of the involvement of Judge Raymond Norko, who is known for his creative community service orders, like sending people to shovel the snow from the sidewalks and porches of people who can’t shovel for themselves, or sending people to follow parades and clean up after horses.
In his chambers this morning, Judge Norko told me he would consider sending them to the Occupy Hartford encampment to do clean-up — though the site at Broad and Farmington is pretty clean already.
Thursday’s action was not an Occupy Hartford event per se, though members of the Occupy movement were there. It was, instead, sponsored by the Connecticut Action Alliance for a Fair Economy.
Over all, from the police involvement to community court, one of the arrested protesters, Daniel I. Medress, of SEIU, said everyone had been extremely professional and courteous. Hartford is emphatically not Oakland.